Back in 2007, I had a pretty amazing opportunity to take part in a multi-artist album called "Glory Revealed". My friend Mac Powell was producing the project, and he called and asked me to sing on one of the songs. I immediately said "yes" (come on...what else would I say?), and soon made my way down to Atlanta to record my vocal on "He Will Rejoice" - the song that would end up as track #1 on the record. To say this was a big deal for me would be an understatement. I was a few years removed from having (and then losing) a record deal, and honestly felt like my opportunities as an artist had come and gone. I had my shot, and it didn't work out - end of story. Or so I thought...
As the release date approached, Mac called again (this is a pattern that you'll see repeated a lot in my story - I'm sure that I'll write more in future blogs) and said that they were planning a tour to promote the album and would like me to be a part of it. Once again, another no-brainer...yes! I knew that it would be a crazy good career opportunity for me, but what I didn't know was how much it would impact my songwriting from that point on. You see, these songs were all taken straight from scripture - the whole concept was to sing God's Word. What I began to see, night after night, was how powerful that can be - both for the people in the crowd and the people on stage. I had never been a part of something like that before...a tour completely built around the Word of God. We sang it on stage, studied it independently, talked about it on the bus...it truly infiltrated every aspect of our lives for that month and a half. And it was a beautiful thing.
While we were out on the road, we all began to sense that there was a bigger picture. We talked at length about doing another album, this time with more of a collaborative approach, and you began to see everyone beginning to work on new material...spending time in scripture, but now with guitar in hand. For me this was a new experience. I'd been writing songs for years, but never like this. Never with the lyric already written, and much more beautifully and powerfully than anything I could have come up with on my own. The first scripture I wanted to write a song from was Proverbs 3:5-6:
Trust in the Lord with all Your heart, and do not lean on Your own understanding. In all Your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight Your paths. (ESV)
I quickly came up with a melody that I loved, it fit the verse perfectly, and I felt sure that I was on my way to finishing a song for the next Glory Revealed record. It got lost in the shuffle when we were recording several months later, and I just put it aside and didn't think about it for a while. I liked it, but felt like it needed a better chorus...and there were other songs calling my name.
Fast forward to the end of 2012. I had just finished one of the most incredible seasons of my life - an almost two year run of playing my songs in front of thousands of people several nights a week, traveling by bus or plane to every show, and selling more CDs each night than I had at any point in my career. But I was faced with a big question mark. A huge uncertainty of "what's next?". Everything had been mapped out for the last two years, every show uploaded to my iCal, with a team of people handling every detail. Suddenly it was just me and my guitar, and I felt very...alone. I remember vividly pulling that song from Proverbs back out - like reconnecting with a long lost friend - and suddenly I had the chorus that I'd been chasing many years earlier:
He won't leave you on the road He leads You down
Sometimes you go through hell before you reach the holy ground
He brought you in, and He'll bring you out
He won't leave you on the road He leads you down
As I write this blog today, I find myself - almost exactly three years later - in a similar place. I don't know what's next. I don't know where God is leading me, or what His plans are for me and my family. But I know this - THERE IS A PLAN. God isn't surprised by the twists and turns of our lives...He doesn't play "catch up" to fix the messes that we so often find ourselves in. His word tells us plainly that "He will make straight your path". Sometimes that path is clear cut and obvious...sometimes it's more like a maze in a corn field. This song took the long and winding road to get to what it is today. Sometimes - honestly, more often than we'd like - we have to do the same.